Eighty-three percent of U.S. inmates were arrested at least once within the nine years following their release from incarceration, according to a U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) report released on May 23.
Many previous studies measured recidivism over a three- or five-year period. By extending its study to nine years, BJS found a significant increase in the recidivism rate, with only 17 percent not being arrested again during this time frame.
“The cumulative arrest percentage among released prisoners increased 15 percentage points when the follow-up period was extended from 3 years to 9 years,” the report stated. “Sixty-eight percent of prisoners had been arrested for a new crime 3 years after release, while 79 percent of prisoners were arrested after 6 years following release. At the end of the 9-year follow-up period, the percentage of prisoners arrested after release increased to 83 percent.”
The report monitored nearly 68,000 prisoners from 2005 to 2014, serving as a representative sample of more than 401,000 prisoners released in 2005.
Of those released in 2005, 89.3 percent were male and 10.7 female, 40.1 percent were black / African-American, 39.7 percent white, 17.7 percent Hispanic / Latino, and other races made up 2.4 percent of the population.
“Recidivism measures require three characteristics,” BJS explained. “1. A starting event, such as a release from prison, 2. a measure of failure following the starting event, such as a subsequent arrest, conviction or return to prison, 3. an observation or follow-up period that generally extends from the date of the starting event to a predefined end date (e.g., 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, 5 years or 9 years).”
The full report is available here.